Friday, 30 March 2018 10:21


Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 30.03.2018
Volodymyr Balukh, 47, is a proud Ukrainian, living in Ukraine, and he shows it. He flies the Ukrainian flag from the roof of his house. He honours the memory of the “Heavenly Hundred” – the Ukrainian patriots who were killed by the Yanukovych regime during the Revolution of Dignity. There’s nothing unusual in that. Except that Russia invaded Ukraine four years ago, and made the ridiculous claim that the part of Ukraine Volodymyr Balukh lives in – Crimea – is not Ukrainian but is somehow a part of Russia.
The self-pitying but violently aggressive Russian state lashed out at Volodymyr Balukh for his acts of loyalty. On 8 December 2016, masked and uniformed men from the Russian occupation regime stormed Balukh’s house, and allegedly found bullets and explosives.  This ‘discovery’ occurred after numerous raids and searches and acts of harassment against Balukh had already occurred. It is patently obvious that the criminal charges that were subsequently made were based on planted evidence. In fact, the Russian regime of state terror wants it to be known that the conviction of Balukh was based solely on fake charges and planted evidence. Putin’s occupation regime wants to demonstrate the power it has over its victims, the Ukrainian people of Crimea. Undisguised falsification of every aspect of the justice system in Russian-occupied Ukrainian Crimea lets everyone know not to expect rule of law from Muscovy, but only unrestrained domination.
The Memorial Human Rights Centre declared Volodymyr Balukh to be a political prisoner. The “Let My People Go” movement lists him as one of the Ukrainian hostages of Russia. Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Mariana Betsa, wrote on Twitter (in Ukrainian): “We demand from the Russian Federation the immediate release of the political prisoner from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, V. Balukh, who declared a hunger strike from 19 March. Another fabricated case.
Volodymyr Balukh is on a hunger strike. As of March 30, Volodymyr Balukh is on the 11th day of a hunger strike against the absurd and false ‘sentence’ that was passed upon him by a kangaroo court of the Russian occupation. A hunger strike is an extraordinary and a personal statement. The world should pay attention to Volodymyr Balukh’s call for justice, and bring the strongest of pressure on Russia for his immediate release.
Several countries now have Magnitsky laws against corrupt Russian officials who are violators of human rights. These countries should sanction the officials involved in the abuse and hostage-taking of Volodymr Balukh. So-called ‘judge’ Maria Bedritskaya, so-called ‘judge’ Yelena Tedeyeva, and so-called ‘prosecutor’ Dmitry Korolev should all face sanctions by the United States, Canada, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and the United Kingdom. Of course, Putin is ultimately responsible for the crimes against humanity occurring in Russian-occupied Ukrainian Crimea and in Russian-occupied Ukrainian Donbas, and it’s Putin who should severe, punitive sanctions, at the very least.
His only crime is loyalty to his home and native land. Volodymyr Balukh said this at his ’trial’: “If at some point people, God forbid, forget about such words as freedom, dignity, and honour, this world will cease to exist.
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